“Mm,” Sabrina mumbled. “Why would I buy a fake one just for my costume?”
“There’s something …” She lowered her face and peered into the mist. “A vision …”
We all leaned in as the red streaks thickened, the color deepening. Just as I wondered if she was pranking us, the sphere darkened to pitch black—and a pair of glowing crimson eyes flashed within it.
Sabrina let out a tiny shriek, Sin jerked back so fast she fell off her stool, and I jumped about a foot but managed not to scream. Ezra alone didn’t react. As the crystal ball returned to swirling white, his grim expression smoothed back into his usual good humor.
“What’s wrong?” Aaron, breathless and clutching his rapier, hurried over. “What happened?”
“Just—just the crystal ball surprised us,” Sabrina stammered.
Aaron helped Sin to her feet. “That’s all? You sure?”
“We’re good,” I said, giving him a meaningful look. He took the hint and stopped asking. We all stood silently for a moment.
“Tori, I’ve been meaning to ask.” Sabrina shifted forward on her seat. “Did you make your decision?”
“From your tarot reading,” she prompted.
“Right!” Sin exclaimed. “Sabrina predicted that someone would die and you had to make a big life-altering decision to save their life.” She playfully arched an eyebrow. “How did that work out?”
I didn’t answer, and it took her a moment to realize she was the only one who seemed entertained. Her amusement quickly faded.
“Sabrina,” Aaron said quietly, “did you really predict that?”
She nodded, watching me closely. “It wasn’t just anyone who was in danger, though. Someone Tori cared for was going to die …”
Against my will, my eyes slid to Ezra. He stared back at me, but I couldn’t tell what he was thinking.
“Oh!” Sabrina gasped.
I jerked my attention away from Ezra. “Huh? What?”
“Nothing!” With scarcely concealed glee, she grabbed her crystal ball and dumped it unceremoniously into the largest pocket of her gypsy dress. “Nothing at all. Well, we should go! Sin, want to split a cab? I already called one.”
“Sure,” Sin muttered, looking as confused as I felt. “See you later, Tori. Great party!”
She was still calling her farewell when Sabrina dragged her off. Halfway across the pub, the diviner started whispering feverishly in Sin’s ear. Both girls stopped and looked back at me, Sabrina with a knowing expression and Sin with disbelief.
“Uh,” I said blankly, watching them hurry to the door. “What was that all about?”
“I was going to ask you the same thing,” Aaron muttered.
As the two girls pushed through the door, Kai stepped inside. I blinked in surprise. When had he left?
He strode to us, frowning over his shoulder. “What were those two giggling about?”
“No idea,” I answered. “Where were you?”
“I just saw Izzah off.”
I braced my elbows on the bar top and grinned. “Did you have a nice visit with her?”
“No, it was extremely unpleasant. Are we ready to go?”
“Almost. I’ve got a few more things to clean up first. I just need to fortify myself. One more drink?”
Aaron grinned. “Okay, one more. But Ezra will have to drive us home.”
“You sure you want to trust me with that?” Ezra asked, amused.
“It’s cool. The car’s a rental.”
I zipped to my station, considered my options, then started mixing drinks. Five minutes later, I set four martinis on the bar top and plopped an olive in each one.
“Finishing the night in style,” I said brightly.
“Perfect! But first, we need …” Aaron looked to the end of the bar. “Hey! Where’s the last cupcake?”
I flinched but recovered quickly. “It got eaten.”
“But that was Kai’s birthday cupcake. I even got a candle.” He pulled a small pink candle from his breeches’ pocket. “Who ate it?”
“You—you never said it was for Kai!”
Aaron’s expression shifted to incredulity. “You ate it? I saw you eat at least two cupcakes already.”
“Why is everyone counting how many cupcakes I eat?” I demanded furiously. “And Ezra ate some of it too!”
“Hey!” Ezra protested. “I only finished it because you—”
“It’s fine,” Kai interrupted with an exasperated roll of his eyes. “I don’t need a cupcake.”
“But it’s your birthday,” I said guiltily. “I didn’t even know.”
“That’s because it isn’t my birthday. It was a week ago, and we spent the entire day with the healers.” He picked up his martini. “This is fine. Better than a cupcake.”
“You didn’t try one, did you?” Ezra asked. “Nothing is better than those cupcakes.”
“Not helping, Ezra,” I muttered out of the corner of my mouth. “Let’s do a toast to Kai, then. How old are you?”
“I turn twenty-two in a few weeks,” I told him smugly.
Giving me another eye roll, he swirled his drink. “Let’s toast to the four of us, not just me.”
I grinned at their matching fleur-de-lis tabards. Throughout the night, we’d all misplaced—or in my case, deliberately discarded—our plumed hats, but the overall effect of our costumes was still strong.
Holding out my glass, I began dramatically, “All for one?”
They stared at me, then identical grins split their faces. They raised their drinks and our glasses clinked loudly. “And one for all!”
We took long gulps of our martinis, kept our composures for two more seconds, then burst into laughter. I gasped in mirth, patting my chest before I choked. Maybe it wasn’t that funny, but I couldn’t help seeing the parallels between our costumes and real life. If all four of us hadn’t been together that night, none of us would’ve made it out of the factory alive.
Before the thought could sober my mood, Darius and Clara rose from their table and headed our way. Girard and Alistair were still deep in discussion, their heads bent together.
“Tori!” Clara gushed as she joined us. “What a success! You have a real talent for event planning.”
“Do I?” I didn’t feel talented. I’d felt in over my head and wildly unprepared.
“An excellent job,” Darius complimented, smiling through his Gandalf beard. It looked convincingly real, and I wondered if he’d gotten some alchemic help to grow it twelve inches long in a matter of days. “You’re welcome to head out. Clara and I will finish up here.”
“Are you sure? I don’t mind—”
“You’ve done enough, Tori!” Clara interrupted sternly.
“And we need to stay longer either way.” Darius glanced at the door. “Unless they changed their minds? I expected them hours ago.”
Clara glanced at the clock on the wall. “It’s after midnight. They must not be coming after all.”
“Who—” I began curiously.
My unfinished question was answered by a cautious rap on the guild’s front door. Alistair and Girard fell silent, as did the other mythics scattered around.
“Ah,” Darius said. “That must be them.”
He pulled his wizard hat off and left it on the bar before striding across the pub. Clara followed, and as they passed, Alistair and Girard rose to join them. Darius reached the door and pulled it open.
With four people in the way, I couldn’t see who was outside, but they must’ve come in because the door swung shut again. Darius spoke in a quiet murmur, and a moment later, Clara offered a warm welcome to the guild’s visitors.
I looked at Aaron, Kai, and Ezra. They stared back blankly, equally nonplussed. Other members wandered closer to see who had come in, so I planted my hands on the bar top and sprang over it—hell yeah, I was getting good at that—and together with the guys, we headed over.
“… glad you made it safely,” Darius was saying. “Though it’s a shame you couldn’t arrive sooner. I would’ve liked to introduce you while everyone was present.”
A quiet, feminine voice mumbled an answer I couldn’t make out.
Glancing up, Darius took note of his audience. He turned with a broad smile and gestured grandly at the unfamiliar girl beside him. She was around my age with long, dirty blond hair in a style that fell somewhere between “sexy tousle” and “just got out of bed.” Smoky makeup darkened her cautious eyes.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Darius proclaimed. “I’d planned this announcement for the whole guild, but as a reward for your impressive late-night endurance, you’ll hear it first. May I present the Crow and Hammer’s newest members!”
A mix of emotions jumped through me. A new member? Since my first day in the guild, I’d been the new girl. I wasn’t sure how I felt about passing that title off to someone else.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com